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Third Annual Mental Health Conference at Prairie State College Sept. 29

Third Annual Mental Health Conference at Prairie State College Sept. 29 [09/06/2016]

Changing Perspectives and Altering Perceptions: Understanding Mental Health

Prairie State College (PSC) is hosting the Third Annual Mental Health Conference from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday Sept. 29, in the Conference Center of the PSC main campus, located at 202 S. Halsted St. in Chicago Heights.

Illinois Senator Michael E. Hastings of the 19th Legislative District will, for the third year in a row, greet participants. As a strong supporter of mental health services, he is passionate about this topic. In 2015, he was recognized as a “local champion of mental health” by Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart and Mental Health America of Illinois. Hastings will discuss how mental health issues are shaping up in the state of Illinois.

This year’s keynote presenter is Orland Park Police Chief Timothy J. McCarthy. Since 2012, the Orland Park Police Department has had a unit of officers that forms the Mental Health Crisis Intervention Team. In addition to their standard responsibilities, these patrol officers have been trained on recognizing the signs of mental health related situations and ways to provide assistance. During his keynote presentation, Chief McCarthy will describe the team's purpose and function, as well as the positive impact it has made for both the community members and police officers involved.

Attendees will have the opportunity to select from a number of breakout sessions. Topics include “Suicide and the Media: How Reporting and News Coverage Affects Viewers,” presented by Alyssa Relyea of the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention; “From Mania to Recovery,” presented by Judy Sturm of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance; “Cultural Barriers to the Counseling Relationship,” presented by Rachael Moore and Andrew LaBerge of Sertoma Centre; “Ethics of Self-Care for the Mental Health Professional,” presented by Dr. Cynthia Cornejo, professor of psychology at PSC; “Social Media Bullying and Links to Traumatic Stress,” presented by Dr. Ashley Kuhl Piwowarski of Hartgrove Behavioral Health Systems; and “Understanding Anxiety and Depression Associated with Teen Pregnancy,” presented by Shavon Parker, of the Roseland, Altgeld/Riverdale and Maywood Adolescent Programs, Catholic Charities of Chicago.

Additionally, a panel discussion, “The Impacts of Suicide,” will feature emergency responders, healthcare professionals and individuals' first-hand accounts involving to suicide. 

The Mental Health Conference at PSC was established in 2014, and is intended to increase awareness of the complexities of mental illness and ways to reduce the stigmas associated with it. Attendees can choose from a variety of educational sessions and hear from experts in the mental health field as well as those who have been personally impacted by mental disorders. Attendees also can attend the exhibitor fair throughout the day.

“Mental health awareness is an important topic for the PSC community, and we are proud to continue offering this conference each year,” said PSC President Dr. Terri L. Winfree.  “Many thanks to all the conference organizers, sponsors and presenters who are helping keep these issues in the forefront.”

The fee to attend is $79, which includes a continental breakfast, exhibitor fair, and a networking lunch. For an additional $20, CEU credits are available for social workers, licensed professional counselors, licensed clinical professional counselors, nursing home administrators, nurses and speech pathologists, EMTs and Illinois certified domestic violence professionals. Teachers also can earn professional development credits. More information is available at prairiestate.edu/ced.

Conference partners include the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, Catholic Charities, Grand Prairie Services, Hartgrove Behavioral Health System, NAMI South Suburbs of Chicago, and Sertoma Centre. Additional sponsorship opportunities are available. Contact Julie DeLong at (708) 709-7919 or jdelong@prairiestate.edu.

For more information or to register for the conference, visit prairiestate.edu/mentalhealthconference.